The Seattle Seahawks needed their bye week. They went into the game before the bye with 16 players on the injury report. That means that nearly one-third of the team (30.1 percent) was hurt, and they lost another player early in the first quarter against the Minnesota Vikings.
Unfortunately, bye weeks haven't been kind to the Seahawks throughout their history, including under current head coach Pete Carroll.
A Brief History
The NFL began giving teams a week off during the regular season in 1990. In 1993, teams were given two bye weeks, but that only lasted one year before the second bye week was dropped.
In the first five of those years, the Seahawks lost all six of their games that came after a bye week. Their first win following a bye didn't come until 1995, with a 27-10 win over the Denver Broncos.
In the Mike Holmgren era, the team was especially bad in its first game after a bye week. The Holmgren-coached Seahawks lost the game following their bye in each of his first six seasons with the team. His first win in the game following a bye week didn't come until the 2005 Super Bowl season. Overall, Holmgren only had two wins in the first game following his team's bye week during his time in Seattle.
The Seahawks have just six total wins in 24 regular-season games following a week off.
The Pete Carroll Era
Initially, Pete Carroll looked like he might reverse the trend. In his first season as head coach in Seattle, the Seahawks went on the road and defeated a good Chicago Bears team. It was arguably the best win of the year for Seattle because of the quality of the opponent.
Unfortunately, things have gone downhill for Pete Carroll and the Seahawks since then. While the talent on the roster has improved, the performance on the field in games following the bye has gone downhill.
In 2011, the Seahawks went into Cleveland and lost to an awful Browns team. Seattle scored just three points in that game and managed to pick up just nine first downs. There were some mitigating circumstances, like the absence of their starting quarterback and running back, but overall, it was a very poor effort by the Seahawks.
Last year, neither side of the ball brought its usual energy after the week off. The offense only managed 14 points, and the defense gave up 17 points in the fourth quarter to a rather mediocre Miami Dolphins team. Even a kick return for a touchdown by kick returner Leon Washington couldn't save the Seahawks from losing.
In some ways, that loss to Miami in 2012 was far worse than the loss to Cleveland the year before. Seattle wasn't missing key players like it was against the Browns, and the 2012 team was a much more talented roster as well. That loss to the Dolphins also stands out because it was Seattle's only loss in the final eight games of the season.
Even before this week's game is played, the bye week has already been tough on the Seahawks this season. Both Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond were suspended for violating the league's substance abuse policy. Now, the Seahawks will be a bit shorthanded as they try and reverse their luck in these games.
What It All Means
While all of this history might be interesting, it can be argued that it will have little influence on Monday's game against the New Orleans Saints. When the teams take the field, no one will care that the Mike Holmgren teams lost many of their first games post-bye week.
With the Pete Carroll teams, it is is unclear if the Seahawks have indeed followed Seattle's historical trend. There's one big win, one bad loss and one injury-plagued game where it is unclear if the bye week had any influence on the outcome, despite the poor result.
Monday's game will also be the first time that a Carroll-coached Seahawks team will play its game at home after a bye week. Hopefully, any lack of energy on the field won't be a problem with the 12th Man worked up into a frenzy in the stands.
This game will be a test to see if Seattle's young team learned a lesson from the result a year ago. If the Seahawks can come out of the game against the Saints with a victory, then perhaps Pete Carroll can finally turn around the franchise's fortunes in games follow a bye.